Jess the Romanceaholic's Reviews > Winter Wishes

Winter Wishes by Vivi Andrews
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Winter Wishes is an anthology including three amazing authors of Paranormal Romance, each with a Christmas or winter theme. Out of the three authors included, I'd only ever read anything by Moira Rogers, and was very pleasantly surprised to discover that she was well-matched in talent and creativity by the other two authors.

Tangled in Tinsel by Vivian Arend 4/5 Stars

Five miles of leather-clad leg is all it takes to lure Kyle Branegan out from his carefully hidden lifestyle as part of the Cougar Corp, a secret branch of the Shifter Enforcer League. He's hoping for a night of fun and frolic, cat-style, no strings attached. With a sultry swing of her hips, Eloise Scott tangles him up in her ball of tricks, and just when he thinks he's about to get lucky, she cuffs him—naked—to her bed.

An undercover cop in the human police force, El's been given a top-secret mission to keep the big cat under her paw until he's needed to testify in court in the New Year. Her decision to take him home for a quiet Christmas in her sleepy hometown turns out to be far more interesting than she expected. Her parents are suddenly rich, her old boyfriend is sniffing around and all six-feet-plus of sexy cougar male is sleeping in her bed.

And that's before they announce their fake engagement...

What worked for me:
*The UST in this story was SCORCHING. Vivian Arend is apparently the Mistress of Tease, because just when you think things are coming together for the couple, *BAM*, something happens to throw you off.

*I really liked the idea of not only shifters being known about and accepted in society (if a bit begrudgingly), but of the identity crisis of sorts that some shifters go through trying to balance their Beast and Human sides, especially when it comes to working with humans. This felt realistic to me, and made for an interesting read as we watched El struggle to embrace her cat while remaining a cop on a human-dominated force.

What didn't work for me:
*The underlying plot was a bit "out there" for me. A single female shifter is assigned to keep a male shifter in "protective custody", and is allowed by her supervisors to bring him home to her family for the holidays? That seemed a little too implausible for my tastes.

*I didn't feel as though El and Kyle got a Happily Ever After, but rather ended up with a Happily For Now ending. El is a bit of a commitment-phobe, so the ending fit with her personality, but was a bit unsatisfying for this citizen of Romancelandia.

Overall? A solid 4/5 Stars

No Angel by Vivi Andrews 5/5 Stars
When Sasha's boyfriend, Jay, is sucked through a fiery vortex to Hell, an angel reveals that Sasha's been chosen as the Champion of Virtue in the battle for his immortal soul. As a perennial offender on Santa's naughty list, Sasha can't believe she's anyone's idea of a girl fighting on the side of the angels. But if she doesn't save Jay, he'll be stuck in Hell forever!

Jay—aka Jevroth—isn't surprised to find himself back in Hell. His visa to visit the mortal plane expired three months ago, but to steal more time with Sasha he's been ignoring his mother's demands that he come home to spend time with his new stepfather: Lucifer.

Sasha has until dawn on the twenty-fifth of December to fight the Legions of Hell and rescue Jay, or be trapped there for eternity herself. But now she must decide if the lying son-of-a-demon is even worth saving...

I will admit, I didn't really want to read this story when I read the blurb, and the only reason I did was because I wanted to be able to review the entire anthology honestly. Let me tell you -- I'm SO glad that I did! Believe it or not, this almost ended up being my favorite story in the anthology! Had the Moira Rogers story not been so good, this one would've justified my 5-Star rating by itself. It was quirky, funny, surprisingly action-packed, romantic, and sweet.

What worked for me:
*I adore stories where "Others" are a recognized part of society rather than hanging on the fringes. Rather than vampires and werewolves, however, this world is populated by Angels (also referred to as the Heavenly Host) and Demons. The Angels made themselves known in the Dark Ages and brought about the Renaissance, and the Demons got the short end of the stick and were banished back to hell. As Sasha says, neither side is purely Good or Evil, but rather the Angels had a better PR agent. I love that the angels are just as likely to walk the streets of L.A. in designer jeans and cowboy boots as they are to wield a flaming sword and dress in the full toga-and-sandals regalia.

*While I found his behavior a bit implausible, I really liked Luc.

*The little twist as to why Sasha was the one who was chosen as the Champion of Virtue.

What didn't work for me:
*As mentioned, Luc's behavior seemed a bit out of character to me. I can't see the devil actually acting like that, an in a way, it seemed a bit anticlimactic.

Overall? 5/5 Stars

Freeze Line by Moira Rogers 5/5 Stars

A twenty-first century ice age dulls the magic that emanates from the earth. Shane Sullivan is a lone wolf above the freeze line. He has no desire to join the packs that range closer to the border, where feral instincts can turn a man into a monster. Not until the winter solstice, when he stumbles across a dying witch who needs his help to get back to her people—and her magic—in the south.

Nadia is a powerful woman in her own world, but she's been drained by her escape from captivity in a northern lab. She knows it's foolhardy to trust a werewolf, but he's her only chance to survive the vast white wilderness. The farther south they travel, the harder it is for Shane to keep the beast within under control, and as their mutual attraction intensifies, Nadia's no longer sure she wants him to.

This story is the entire reason I requested this anthology. I'm a Moira Rogers fangirl to begin with, so I was fairly certain that I'd enjoy it, and I wasn't disappointed.

What worked for me:
*Tortured hero, who had been unwillingly turned into a werewolf during an attack that killed his lover, rescues a warrior witch from freezing to death after she escaped torture by scientists who had kidnapped her and dragged her to the frozen north, where the earth is asleep and magic doesn't work. Greatly weakened, Nadia literally depends on Shane for her survival despite not knowing if she can trust him.

*For some crazy reason, I do love self-loathing in a man. Shane despises the fact that he's a werewolf, and in fact lives so far north of the freeze line because that is where earth sleeps there and his wolf slumbers with it. Were he to live in the south, his beast would be given to rise, and he fears that he wouldn't be able to control it and would either hurt someone, or would become hunted as a monster.

*I really enjoyed the fact that Nadia wasn't weak. Certainly, she was wounded when Shane first came upon her, but as they move south, she regains her strength and proves herself to be a not only a capable warrior but a powerful witch as well. I like that even as her powers and strength return, however, she remains real -- a woman of deep emotions and integrity.

*I absolutely adored how the earth actually spoke to Nadia when she reconnected with her magic

What didn't work for me:
*Honestly, there wasn't much that I didn't like about this story. If I had to list something, it would be the fact that there wasn't much information given on "the scientists" other than their fear and abuse of the witches. I would've enjoyed reading more about their movement as well as about other witches that had survived (or not, as it were) their experiments, but of course that couldn't be thoroughly explored in a short story or novella.

5/5 Stars


Overall, I was very pleased with this anthology. I would suggest that anyone reading not skip any of the stories based on the synopsis alone -- I almost made that mistake with the second story and am very glad that I forced myself to start it.

I highly recommend this anthology for any fan of paranormal romance. A very solid 4.5/5 Stars.
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